Mobile Browser ActivitiesAs indi­cated in my pre­vi­ous retail blog post, there are a num­ber of dif­fer­ences between retail web­sites and other web­sites. Tech­nol­ogy adop­tion is one area that is espe­cially poignant. Con­sider the exhibit on the right.

Does this graph indi­cate that users have a lit­tle desire to pur­chase on their web-enabled phones? Prob­a­bly not. What dri­ves the activ­i­ties listed above? Avail­abil­ity and Usabil­ity. Because ven­dors con­cen­trat­ing on the top cat­e­gories have made these activ­i­ties easy to find and easy to use, the masses flock to them. What’s my point? Online retail­ers could eas­ily make their shop­ping carts avail­able on mobile phones, but have not. Why? I don’t have all the answers but one rea­son I believe is because they are appre­hen­sive of to try­ing try some­thing new, even if it has huge potential .

Adop­tion Life Cycle
The Rogers Curve below describes the adop­tion of new tech­nolo­gies. Many of you will be famil­iar with this fig­ure. I’ve over­laid the curve with a smaller curve that rep­re­sents the typ­i­cal retail indus­try adop­tion. Notice that most retail­ers are a bit slower to adopt tech­nol­ogy (includ­ing web ana­lyt­ics, social media, mobile, video and rich media) than other indus­tries.
Retail Adoption Life Cycle
I men­tioned before that retail­ers seem appre­hen­sive to try new tech­nolo­gies. Com­ing late to the game may not nec­es­sar­ily be a bad thing. In fact, maybe we should con­sider it “fash­ion­ably late.” Here are the advantages.

  1. The indus­try ten­dency to adopt new meth­ods and tech­nol­ogy late ensures that the tech­nol­ogy has been tested and proven. This reduces wasted invest­ment by allow­ing other companies/industries to be the guinea pigs on the bleed­ing edge.
  2. You’re not the only one who’s late. Your com­pe­ti­tion from the same indus­try will likely be late adopters as well.

In essence, being an Inno­va­tor or Early Adopter in the retail indus­try allows for first mover advan­tage while still reap­ing the ben­e­fits of proven tech­nol­ogy.
As you can see, tim­ing here is cru­cial . With­out aware­ness of new tech­nolo­gies, it will be dif­fi­cult to gauge where on the adop­tion life cycle that tech­nol­ogy might be. It is cru­cial to work on tech­nol­ogy ini­tia­tives while keep­ing an eye on other inno­v­a­tive indus­tries to see what is com­ing down the pipe.
As web tech­nol­ogy con­tin­ues to evolve at a blaz­ing pace, keep­ing up with the trends will become impor­tant to more than just the fash­ion indus­try. Online retail­ers are in a uniquely advan­ta­geous posi­tion because early adop­tion of tech­nol­ogy pro­vides the ben­e­fits of being a first mover with the secu­rity blan­ket of tested and proven solutions.

Inno­va­tors in Online Retail
So, you want some con­crete exam­ples, you say? I am here to please!
In an arti­cle for eMar­keter in June 2010 (Mobile Shop­ping From In-Store), Jef­frey Grau cites sev­eral exam­ples of retail­ers who are using the mobile chan­nel as a com­pet­i­tive advan­tage. Ama​zon​.com launched a mobile app in Decem­ber 2009. Shop­pers will go to other stores to try or exam­ine a prod­uct, then order it from Ama­zon Mobile. This allows Ama­zon to avoid the over­head of retail space.

Giselle Tsir­ul­nik at Mobile Com­merce Daily reports (Sept 13, 2010) that the retailer, Express, recently launched a mobile app that will send vis­i­tors dis­counts and pro­mo­tions based on their GPS loca­tion. Way to think out­side the box, Express!

In her arti­cle of Octo­ber 18,2010 (Get­ting Social Cus­tomer Ser­vice Right, For­rester), Diane Clark­son describes sev­eral ways in which com­pa­nies are using social media to reduce cus­tomer ser­vice over­head. One exam­ple she uses is Walmart’s online forum as a place where cus­tomers can ask and answer ques­tions to each other.
Walmart online forumexample

In another exam­ple, Xbox is using Twit­ter as a method for cus­tomers to con­tact a rep­re­sen­ta­tive. The upside here is that the tweet is also vis­i­ble to oth­ers who may have the same ques­tion.
Xbox example

There are lim­it­less options for uti­liz­ing tech­nol­ogy in your online mar­ket­ing strat­egy!
So what are you wait­ing for?

Have spe­cific ques­tions about Adobe Site­Cat­a­lyst?  Want to track a data point on your web­site, but not sure where to start with the imple­men­ta­tion?  Fol­low me on Twit­ter @sitecattips Please feel free to leave a com­ment here or send me an email at adobe­site­cat­a­lyst (at) adobe​.com